Enabling Trusted Digital Interactions Between People & Government

Mar 6, 2015

Today, people rely heavily on insecure and inefficient means to access federal government applications to conduct business (i.e., they depend on usernames and passwords to log into federal agency services online). Users are required to create and manage several online accounts for different applications, which can become a nuisance, difficult to manage, and creates administrative burden for the organization. Additionally, with the abundance of these weak credentials (i.e., usernames and passwords that are easy to hack and difficult to trust), organizations – including the federal government – are left with minimal confidence in a user’s identity. The fundamental weakness in authentication and identity proofing (i.e., trusting that people are who they say they are) is felt across the federal landscape.

Key with American flag

Serge Zamoyski/Hemera/Thinkstock

However, these issues may soon be relics of a bygone era. Connect.Gov is a service that helps reduce agency investment and enables a secure, trusted, and inter-operable method for digital interactions between people and government.

Connect.Gov enables federal agencies to provide online services to consumers using government approved externally-issued digital credentials in a convenient, privacy-enhancing and secure manner. Users can choose to leverage a credential of their choice from a trusted Credential Service Provider (CSP) (e.g., Verizon, ID.me) to access online government services, eliminating the need for agencies to maintain user credentials.

On the left, it shows 3 examples of how without Connect.gov, you can only use an agency-issued credential for access to that agency’s applications. On the right, it shows how Connect.gov enables you to use a single third-party credential to access multiple agencies’ applications.

The solution is FedRAMP-certified and is capable of accepting credentials at Levels of Assurance (LOA) 1, 2, 3, and 4 to authenticate users and provide effective identity proofing service via the CSPs. The system is designed with built-in safeguards to protect the privacy of federal agency customers.

The Connect.Gov service:

  • Securely transmits data between agency applications and CSPs.
  • Does not store personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Does not allow CSPs to track consumer activity, including services/application use.

Connect.Gov can provide numerous benefits for agencies that choose to integrate with the shared service: it provides a one-stop shop to access all levels of credentials, increases security and privacy, streamlines access, enables new digital services, and reduces agency investments. Currently, the program is being rolled out with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department of State, General Services Administration and National Institute of Standards and Technology.